Why be ‘against’ drawing contour lines on maps? Tucked deep in the shelves of the Lit and Phil is an 1856 report, or ‘minutes of evidence’, where eminent engineers of the day weigh-in, for and against, the contour line. It’s the detail that captivates; there are descriptions of maps “hung up in the committee room… similar to those in general use in Bavaria, Baden Baden, and Switzerland.” Sadly with no clues as to which maps they are, the scale or look of them, and begging the question: in which room did this meeting take place?
I am as much drawn to the ‘missing’ as what is left behind. An idle moment with nose stuck in a ‘brief memoir’ of Hutton reveals an angry outburst at the break-up of his library. He intended the whole to be left to the British Museum but: “I have been cruelly prevented from having it kept together… by my old implacable enemy, the president of the Royal Society [Sir Joseph Banks]”. Poor him, poorer us. Would his ‘missing’ map have been amongst those books and papers? Sadly ‘proper’ research is currently on hold, but the models and drawings created for the initial exhibition are to go on show again.
From the 19 to 29 April 2018, they will be at the Alan Reece Gallery within the John Muir Wildspace, Pitlochry, Scotland. As one of the nearest towns to the mountain Schiehallion I am delighted to be taking the artwork there. And, with the John Muir Trust, an afternoon of talks on all things Schiehallion is being arranged for Saturday, April 28. More details on this and other related events soon.